FlixChatter’s picks of buzz-worthy TIFF movies

The Toronto Film Festival wrapped this past weekend. The last 10 days, 250+ feature films from 60 countries had been screened there, making it a bustling marketplace for films and bidding war for studios has officially begun.

Various sites and blogs have been covering the festival from day one, blog about the most buzzed-about movies at TIFF. Cinemablend’s posted Toronto’s 5 Most Talked About Movies; Canadian’s TheStar.com news site has put their annual Chasing the Buzz poll selected by a panelist of cinephiles (which tally the votes of 56 most-anticipated flicks from the festival); indiewire listed their picks of ‘winners, losers and the Oscar worthy;’ and my personal favorite festival source The Playlist blog have all kinds of news and reviews of noteworthy TIFF movies. According to CBC news, the winner of TIFF’s People Choice Award this year is Precious, which my friend Jeannette tipped me off a couple of weeks ago (thanks J!). It’s an urban coming-of-age tale of a teen girl who tries to overcome abuse, illiteracy and teen pregnancy. Starring comedian Mo’Nique, one of the executive producers is Oprah, who got on board upon hearing its buzz at Sundance the beginning of the year. All of this reminds me I have to rent last year’s winner at TIFF, Slumdog Millionaire (yes, I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t seen that one).

In any case, out of all the buzzed-about flicks, there are probably only a handful of them I wouldn’t mind seeing. A bunch of them that got rave reviews are either too bizarre or controversial for my taste.

So here goes:

Clooney in Up in the Air
Clooney in Up in the Air
  • Up in the Air
    George Clooney stars as a downsizing expert in a dramedy by Juno director Jason Reitman. I’m no Clooney fan by a long shot, but I’m intrigued by the plot that seems very timely with all the jobs lost in the airline industry. The supporting cast are made up of real comic talents: Danny McBride, J.K. Simmons, and Jason Bateman (wow, he’s one busy dude!), and an up ‘n coming actress who drew rave reviews, Anna Kendrick.
  • Bright Star
    The life story of poet John Keats fascinates me, and I’m a sucker for unrequited love stories. The trailer looks great – Ben Wishaw & Abbie Cornish seem to have great chemistry. The Playlist calls it “… an exquisite piece of cinema, gorgeously sewn and lovingly realized...” From the director of The Piano, Jane Campion, I’m just glad there won’t be a naked Harvey Keitel in this one [shudders].
  • Leaves of Grass
    I’ve been anticipating this one since July, where Ed Norton plays identical twins: one’s an ivy league professor, the other a crooked pot dealer (is there any other kind?). The Playlist was surprised that this is more than a hilarious pot comedy: “…pot comedy, family identity drama, anti-semitism commentary, violent drug thriller and intolerance parable with deep philosophical themes...” Whoaa… I didn’t expect that, either. Leave it to Norton to flabbergast and leave us dumbfounded, wouldn’t expect anything less since I first saw him in Primal Fear.
  • The Joneses
    I’ve been a longtime fan of David Duchovny, and it’s been a while since I saw Demi Moore in a feature film. Another timely premise about all-American consumerism run amok, it looks funny yet thought provoking. Duchovny is excellent in a satire with his witty and deadpan humor. This role of husband/father in a seemingly perfect and too-good-to-be-true suburban family seems to fit him perfectly. The Hollywood Reporter had mostly great things to say about the movie, which is a debut of first-time writer/director Derrick Borte.
Collin Farrell in Ondine
Collin Farrell & Alicja Bachleda in Ondine
  • Ondine
    Now, this one took me by surprise as I haven’t heard about it until I read the buzz surrounding TIFF, but it’s one that definitely piqued my interest. The Playlist calls it a “… romantic and wondrous fairytale … about an Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) whose life is transformed when a gorgeous female sea nymph is caught in his fishing net (Alicja Bachleda)”  Shot in Ireland during the Hollywood’s writers’ strike, the Neil Jordan’s film looks lush and ethereal and well, dreamy. I recently read that Farrell fell in love with polish actress Bachelda during filming, so we can probably expect a genuine chemistry between the two.
  • The man who stare at goats
    Another Clooney movie, whaddayaknow? Hmmm, I must be warming up to him which is so unlike me… but I can’t help it after I saw the trailer. Ewan McGregor — another Scot who fails miserably attempting an American accent — plays the reporter who encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator (Clooney). The scene of them in the desert pretty much sold me on this one, not to mention the goat-staring one. Everybody looks hilarious in this black comedy that’s interestingly enough is based on a true story! A hilarious exploration of the government’s attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies, that’s the premise of the Jon Ronson’s best seller that inspired it. Jeff Bridges, reprising The Big Lebowski‘s dude again as psychic program founder, as well as Kevin Spacey round up the excellent cast.
  • Young Victoria
    Another costume drama based on a true story, this time with my fave actress Emily Blunt as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. The Playlist pretty much credited her and Rupert Friend — who plays Prince Albert — for carrying the movie on their shoulders, “They’re dynamite together, displaying a rare chemistry – they carry the movie on their shoulders, and you can’t fail to be moved by the strength of the relationship that the actors develop.” The trailer looks awesome — with beautiful costumes & stunning scenery — but I’ve heard that music before. Why is it that they keep using similar scores for different movies? Kind of like when Gladiator came out, almost every action films that followed use that same type of ethereal-sounding score! Sorry I digress. I’m definitely going to see this one. Instead of forbidden or tragic love story, it’s nice to see the start of an enduring and happy marriage portrayed on screen.

There are probably a few others that I’m forgetting about tonight. I’ll post ’em later as I remember them. Boy, too many flicks, too little time!

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10 thoughts on “FlixChatter’s picks of buzz-worthy TIFF movies

  1. Mike

    Dang! They all seem worth seeing. Guess it’s a good thing as the chilly weather is coming. Indoor activities will abound shortly, good for popcorn and flix!

    1. Yup, and Fall movies are generally less bombastic and more nuanced than Summer ones, so yeah, bring on the flix! Can’t wait for Law Abiding Citizen in 3 weeks!

  2. Ondine movie sounds like that movie from the 80’s about the guy who caches a mermaid. Sounds like a takeoff of that movie, really how many movies are actually unique in their content. To me every movie is a takeoff of another just different actors. Just my opinion.

    1. I think you’re referring to “Splash” with Darryl Hannah? Well I sure hope this is a few notches above that. Based on the review, I don’t think this is a fantasy flick, so the girl isn’t actually a mermaid.

      You’re right about Hollywood running out of unique ideas though, I blogged about that a while ago. They’re in dire need of good, fresh writers.

  3. PrairieGirl

    Warming up to Clooney, finally, eh? Fun to hear! Just teasing, sort of. I certainly don’t rate him as high as most, but I thoroughly enjoyed quite a few of his movies: Ocean’s XX, the Coen comedy Burn After Reading, especially Michael Clayton (great writing, plot and acting) and Good Night and Good Luck (fascinating look at TV news in it’s early years). Both the GC movies you mention here sound good too.

    1. Well I don’t loathe him as much as his buddy in the Ocean movies (y’know which one), and I quite like him in “Out of Sight” and even “One Fine Day.” But he’s just sooo famous and generally that’s a turn-off for me, just like I used to like Leo DiCaprio before he hit it big, y’know. But yeah, I couldn’t resist rooting for those two flicks, esp. the goat one, looks hilarious!

  4. Jeannette

    Looks like some excellent movies are coming out that I need to see this fall. Don’t feel bad rtm, I haven’t seen the Slumdog Millionaire yet either. The Man Who Stares at Goats looks interesting. Keep the reviews coming so I know what to see!
    J

    1. Yeah, Fall movies are generally more nuanced than Summer fares, which is a good thing. I’m gonna have to watch Slumdog before Oscar season starts… but man, there are too many other movies to watch, too. Too many flicks, too little time!

  5. Juliet

    Ruth, we should watch some of these for our girl’s movie nites!!! They look interesting. Hmm, just a suggestion. 🙂

    1. Hey sure, I think Ondine looks interesting and if we want to keep with the costume drama theme, Young Victoria is definitely one to watch. Good idea, Julie!

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